Escape from Eternal Time, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF - 24.2 2023

By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Back To Godhead Vol. I, No. 60, 1973.

Dhrtarastra is a typical example of an attached old man in household life. Although he became a pauper in the true sense, he nonetheless wanted to live comfortably in the house of the Pandavas. Thus Vidura told him:

aho mahiyasi jantor
jivitasa yatha bhavan
bhimapavarjitam pindam
adatte grha-palavat

“Alas, how powerful are the hopes of a living being to continue his life. Verily, you are living just like a household dog and are eating remnants of food given by Bhima.” (Bhag. 1.13.23) Vidura especially mentioned Bhima because Bhima personally killed Dhrtarastra’s two prominent sons, Duryodhana and Duhsasana. These two sons were very dear to Dhrtarastra for their notorious and nefarious activities, and Bhima was particularly pointed out because he killed these two pet sons. Why was Dhrtarastra living at the house of the Pandavas? Because he wanted to continue his life comfortably, even at the risk of all humiliation. Vidura was therefore astonished at the powerful urge to continue life despite humiliation.

This sense of continuing one’s life indicates that a living being is eternally a living entity and does not want to change his bodily habitation. A foolish man does not know that a particular term of bodily existence is awarded to him as a term of imprisonment, and the human body is awarded after many, many births and deaths as a chance for self-realization to go back home, back to Godhead. Persons like Dhrtarastra try to make plans to live in the material body in a comfortable position with profit and interest, for they do not see things as they are.

Dhrtarastra was blind, and he continued to hope to live comfortably in the midst of all of life’s reverses. A sadhu like Vidura is meant to awaken such blind people and thus help them return to Godhead, where life is eternal. Upon returning to God, one does not want to return to this material world of miseries. We can hardly imagine how responsible a task is entrusted to a sadhu like Mahatma Vidura.

The system of varnasrama religion sets aside a part of one’s life completely for the purpose of self-realization and attainment of salvation in the human form of life. That is a routine division of life. But persons like Dhrtarastra, even at their weary ripened age, want to stay home, even in a degraded condition. Dhrtarastra was actually accepting charity from his enemies. Wanting to point this out and impress upon him that it was better to die like his sons than to accept such humiliating charity, Vidura told him:

agnir nisrsto dattas ca
garo daras ca dusitah
hrtam ksetram dhanam yesam
tad-dattair asubhih kiyat

“There is no need to live a degraded life and subsist on the charity of those whom you tried to kill by arson and poisoning. You also insulted one of their wives and usurped their kingdom and wealth.” (Bhag. 1.13.24)

Five thousand years ago there was one Dhrtarastra, but at the present moment there are many Dhrtarastras in every home. Politicians especially do not retire from political activities unless dragged by the cruel hand of death or killed by some opposing element. To stick to family life till the end of one’s human life is the grossest type of degradation, and there is an absolute need for Viduras to educate such Dhrtarastras, even at the present moment.

Vidura further informed Dhrtarastra: “Despite your unwillingness to die and your desire to live even at the cost of honor and prestige, your miserly [krpana] body will certainly dwindle and deteriorate like an old garment.” (Bhag. 1.13.25) The words krpanasya jijivisoh in this verse are significant. There are two classes of men. One is called a krpana, and the other is called a brahmana. Thekrpana, the miserly man, has no estimation of his material body, but the brahmana has a true estimation of himself and the material body. Having a wrong estimation of his material body, the krpana wants to enjoy sense gratification with his utmost strength, and even in old age he tries to become a young man by medical treatment or otherwise. Dhrtarastra is addressed herein as a krpana because without considering his material body he wants to live at any cost, and Vidura is trying to open his eyes to see that he cannot live more than his time and that he must prepare for death.

Since death is inevitable, why should one accept such a humiliating position? It is better to take the right path, even at the risk of death. Human life is meant for finishing all kinds of miseries that arise due to material existence, and life should be so regulated that one can achieve the desired goal. Because of his wrong conception of life, Dhrtarastra had already spoiled eighty percent of his energy, so it behooved him to utilize his remaining days for the ultimate good. Dhrtarastra’s life was miserly because he did not properly utilize the assets of the human form of life. By good luck such a miserly man meets a self-realized soul like Vidura, and by Vidura’s instructions he gets rid of the nescience of material existence.

Narottama dasa Thakura, a great Krsna conscious devotee and spiritual master, has sung:

hari-kari viphale janama gonainu
manusya-janama paiya,
radha-krsna na bhajiya
janiya suniyda visa khainu

“My Lord, I have simply wasted my life. Having obtained the human body, I have neglected to worship Your Lordship, and therefore willingly I have drunk poison.” In other words, the human body is especially meant for cultivating knowledge of devotional service to the Lord, without which life is full of anxieties and miserable conditions. Therefore one who has spoiled his life without such cultural activities is advised to leave home without the knowledge of friends or relatives and, being thus freed from all obligations to family, society, country, etc., give up the body at some unknown destination so -that others may not know where and how he has met his death.

Thus Vidura advised Dhrtarastra:

gata-svartham imam deham
virakto mukta-bandhanah
avijnata-gatir jahyat
sa vai dhira udahrtah

“He is called undisturbed [dhira] who goes to an unknown, remote place and, freed from all obligations, quits his material body when it has become useless.” (Bhag. 1.13.26) A dhira is one who is not disturbed, even when there is sufficient provocation. Generally, one cannot give up a comfortable life due to his affectionate relation with wife and children. Self-realization is obstructed by such undue affection for family, and if anyone is at all able to forget such a relation, he is called undisturbed, or dhira.

This, however, is the path of renunciation based on a frustrated life, but stabilization of such renunciation is possible only by association with bona fide saints and self-realized souls who can engage one in the loving devotional service of the Lord. Sincere surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord is possible by awakening the transcendental sense of service, and this is made possible by the association of pure devotees of the Lord. Dhrtarastra was lucky enough to have a brother like Vidura whose very association was a source of liberation for his frustrated life. Vidura further told Dhrtarastra:

yah svakat parato veha
jata-nirveda atmavan
hrdi krtva harim gehat
pravrajet sa narottamah

“He is certainly a first-class man who a-wakens and understands, either by himself or from others, the falsity and misery of this material world and thus leaves home and depends fully on the Personality of Godhead residing in his heart.” (Bhag. 1.13.27) Real perfection on the path of liberation is obtained when one is practiced to depend fully on the Supreme Personality of. Godhead, who lives in everyone’s heart. One way live in the darkest jungle alone, but a steadfast devotee knows very well that he is never alone. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is within him, and He can protect His sincere devotee in any awkward circumstance. One should therefore practice devotional service at home, hearing chanting of the Lord’s holy name, quality, form, pastimes and entourage in the association of pure devotees, and this practice will help one awaken God consciousness in proportion to one’s sincerity.

Vidura’s words to Maharaja Dhrtarastra did not go in vain. We are informed by Srimad-Bhagavatam:

evam raja vidurenanujena
prajna-caksur bodhita ajamidhah
chittva svesu sneha-pasan dradhimno
niscakrama bhratr-sandarsitadhva

“Thus Maharaja Dhrtarastra, the scion of the family of Ajamidha, firmly convinced by introspective knowledge, broke at once the strong network of familial affection by his resolute determination. Thus he immediately left home to set out on the path of liberation, as directed by his younger brother Vidura.” (Bhag. 1.13.29)

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great preacher of the principles of Srimad-Bhagavatam, has stressed the importance of association with sadhus, or pure devotees of the Lord. He said that even by a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can achieve all perfection. Vidura’s association with Dhrtarastra serves as an example of this truth. Maharaja Dhrtarastra was tightly bound in a network of material affinities related to politics, economy and family attachment, and he did everything in his power to achieve so-called success in his planned projects, but he was frustrated from the beginning to the end so far as his material activities were concerned. And yet, despite his life of failure, he achieved the greatest of all success in self-realization by the forceful instructions of a pure devotee of the Lord, who is the typical emblem of a sadhu. The scriptures enjoin, therefore, that one should associate with sadhusonly, rejecting all other kinds of association, and by so doing one will have ample opportunity to hear the sadhus, who can cut to pieces the bonds of illusory affection in the material world.

It is a fact that the material world is a great illusion because everything appears to be a tangible reality but at the next moment everything is evaporated like the dashing foam of the sea or a cloud in the sky. A cloud in the sky undoubtedly appears to be a reality because it rains and due to rain so many temporary green things appear, but in the ultimate issue, everything disappears, namely the cloud, rain and green vegetation, all in due course. But the sky remains, and the varieties of luminaries in the sky also remain forever. Similarly the Absolute Truth, which is compared to the sky, remains eternally, and the temporary cloudlike illusion comes and goes away. Foolish living beings are attracted by the temporary cloud, but intelligent men are more concerned with the eternal sky with all its variegatedness.